LLC formation services are the modern entrepreneur’s best friend. After all, filing paperwork is annoying (if you don’t mind paperwork, then this guide probably isn’t for you), so an LLC formation service can remove some of that headache for you.
But which formation service should you use? There are dozens of options available to choose from. To put your money to good use, you’ll want to choose the perfect one.
Generally speaking, a good formation service does two things. First, they help you form your business, offering advice along the way. Second, they’ll help you maintain your new company by reminding you of due dates, state requirements, and more.
Other important factors to consider are the service’s track record, their cost, and how easy it is to use their service. In this review, we’ll give you our in-depth opinion of BizFilings’s LLC formation service.
Rocket Tip: Looking for the best and most affordable LLC formation services? Compare the 3 top LLC websites to see how they stack up.
Our philosophy: What makes a formation service “good?”
Ultimately, the “best” business formation service boils down to a matter of opinion. Which one is best for you depends on what you want from a service. But that said, there are certain qualities that make one formation service better than another.
Whenever we evaluate LLC formation services, here are some questions we like to ask:
- Does this service give me a good value for what I’m paying?
- Does this company have a proven record of supplying high-quality service?
- What is the quality of this company’s customer service?
- How easy is it to use this service?
- How quickly will my business be formed?
A good LLC formation service will receive high marks in these categories. We’ll consider the answers to these questions in our in-depth review below.
What is BizFilings?
BizFilings began its business formation journey in 1996 as Business Filings Incorporated. The company began as the brainchild of an entrepreneur, Brian Wiegand, so helping entrepreneurs get started is the core of what they do. In the 20 years since they started, BizFilings has formed more than 500,000 businesses.
BizFilings stands out for offering an extensive network of business resources to their customers. That’s because they’re partners with a wide variety of organizations, including The National Business Association, Startup Nation, Avalon, and more.
BizFilings customers can often receive discounts on these memberships and services, making them a great resource for networking.
How does BizFilings work?
BizFilings will file your business paperwork with the state on your behalf. But to do that, they need you to fill them in about the details of your business. Usually, you can expect a six-step process when you use BizFilings.
To help you know what to expect, here’s a fly-over of the steps you’ll complete with their order process:
- Select a package and choose your add-ons: You’ll need to select your state of incorporation, the business type you want to form, and then, of course, what package you want. You can opt in or out of several add-ons here, such as expedited shipping or a quote for a payroll service.
- Create an account: To use BizFilings, you’ll need to create an account with your email and password. You’ll also be able to use this account later on to access your documents and amend your services.
- Start your business registration: In this step, you’ll provide some basic information about your business, such as your desired business name. It helps to have a few options to choose from in case your first choice is not available—BizFilings will check for you.
- Establish management for your business: Here, you’ll establish whether your LLC will be run by the members or special managers. Regardless of which option you choose, you’ll list the members and the managers here, along with their contact information.
- Set up your registered agent: BizFilings throws in six months of free registered agent service, but if you want to use someone else, you can designate that person here.
- Confirm and pay: To complete the process, you’ll need to provide payment information (it’s best to have a credit card on hand). But before you do that, you have a chance to review your order and confirm that all the details are correct.
All told, it takes approximately 15-30 minutes to complete an order with BizFilings. Once you’ve submitted your order, BizFilings will complete all the paperwork on your behalf.
Is BizFilings a good option?
If we were to rank every incorporation service we’ve reviewed, BizFilings would fall somewhere in the middle.
They get the job done well. And one of our favorite features of their service is their incorporation wizard. It’s especially helpful for entrepreneurs who feel like a fish out of water when thinking about the difference between an LLC and a corporation. The guidance is helpful.
The main downside with BizFilings is simply their pricing. Their entry-level package is a decent value, but their upper-tier packages lack the necessary features to make it worth the cost.
What are BizFilings’ customers saying?
Like we mentioned, BizFilings has formed more than 500,000 businesses in the last twenty years. But oddly enough, there are very few external reviews available online. (We found three; there are lots available on their website, but we prefer to focus on off-site reviews).
Normally, we like to summarize the reviews to give you an idea of what other customers have experienced with a service. But with so few reviews available, we can’t really make a fair analysis.
The lack of reviews isn’t a make-or-break issue for us. But if you want to use a company with lots of positive external reviews, you should probably look elsewhere.
LegalZoom vs. BizFilings: What’s the difference?
On the surface, LegalZoom and BizFilings seem to accomplish the same purpose: helping you form your LLC. And while that’s true, the difference between them goes much deeper than that. We’ll give you our full analysis in just a moment, but here are a few key differences:
- LegalZoom has an impressive customer volume of more than 3.6 million customers. Over a million of those customers are businesses, giving them one of the most impressive client lists in the industry.
- BizFilings is backed by a large compliance firm, Wolters Kluwer. To that end, they offer specialized compliance assistance and even publication services.
Both LegalZoom and BizFilings can help you start an LLC online. But to give you a better idea of which is right for you, let’s jump in to the specifics below.
Who is BizFilings best for?
BizFilings is not our top choice for an incorporation service, but they are a reliable, trustworthy service. And we really appreciate their incorporation wizard; it’s a good resource for entrepreneurs who need extra guidance about forming their business.
If you want the best value in the industry, however, you’d best look elsewhere; BizFilings is a little pricey compared to their competitors. We’ll dig into that (and other factors) in the in-depth review below.
BizFilings: Our in-depth review
Cost to form an LLC
For a business, money is always a factor. That goes for new and established businesses alike. That’s why you should always factor in cost when considering an LLC formation service. BizFilings is no exception.
The package offerings of BizFilings are actually a bit difficult to review. That’s because the price tag for their middle and top-level packages varies depending on what state you choose. So, it’s difficult to make a sweeping judgment about their value.
However, we can say that, on average, the packages offered by BizFilings are a bit more expensive than their competitors. For example, their entry-level package costs $99, but some competitors start out at a $39 price point – like ZenBusiness. Their pricing is not unreasonable, but you can definitely find a better value somewhere else.
With that in mind, let’s talk about their packages:
Basic: The cheapest package from BizFilings is $99. The package is relatively simple in its offerings, but it includes a name availability search and filing of your business documents. They also throw in six months of free registered agent service and access to their business compliance tool. If you want to continue using the registered agent service after the trial, you’ll pay $164 a year. That’s a touch more than some competitors charge, but it’s not unreasonable. And the compliance tool is included in that price, it’s not a bad fee.
Starter: How much you pay for the Starter package depends on what state you choose. The price for most states is $229, but it can range anywhere from $159 to $244. Whatever you pay, you’ll receive everything in the Basic package, plus a custom business kit and seal, expedited processing, and sample documents that you can customize for your business.
Complete: Like the Starter package, your price varies based on your state. The typical price is $359, with a range of $199 to $434. You’ll receive everything in the Starter package and a Federal Tax ID and a certified copy of your documents. You’ll also get UPS overnight shipping for your documents and an informational DVD entitled, “Now That You’ve Formed.” In some states, you’ll also get a few other features like a state tax ID form and an initial report.
Since it’s a bit difficult to nail down the exact price and features for each state, we recommend that you contact a customer service representative to get the full picture of each package in your state.
BizFilings’ order process
Have you ever tried to order something online, only to get lost in a never-ending series of cluttered web pages? The harder it is to order a service, the less likely you are to use it. Streamlined ordering is an important component of any good formation service.
Overall, we like the order form BizFilings uses. It’s fairly easy to navigate, with only seven pages to complete from start to finish. And if you’re not sure what entity type to form, their incorporation wizard helps a lot. They do present a few upsells along the way, but they didn’t feel pushy.
Something else to love: the moment you get started, BizFilings assigns an order number to you. With this, it’s very easy to get assistance mid-process. With some services, you have to describe your problem to the representative. But with an order number from the get-go, BizFilings’ reps can tell exactly where you are, making it easier to get the help you need.
The only real negative of BizFilings is that a lot of their additional offers come from third parties. That’s not a dealbreaker, but we think it bogs things down.
Customer Support Friendliness
Since online formation services are entirely virtual, they can sometimes feel a bit impersonal. But good customer support—complete with friendly, prompt customer service representatives—brings a personal touch to your experience.
BizFilings’ customer support is one of their best features. They offer phone, chat, and email support, which is fairly standard for this industry. We tested both phone and email support, and both times we received a response that was courteous, prompt, and professional. They even expanded on our questions, too.
With their phone support, we found it easy to navigate through their menus and speak to a person. A helpful feature of their phone menu is actually the first one: at the very beginning of your call, the program offers to answer questions about their products and services. For email, we got a response the same day (note: we did send it fairly early in the morning). They also have a “leave a message” option on the left of their website, but we didn’t test that.
Our favorite feature? The time range for customer support is wide open: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET on weekdays. That’s considerably longer than most of their competitors.
LLC Formation Speed
Technically speaking, you can file your own LLC paperwork yourself. But you’re a busy, budding entrepreneur, so you may not have the time to spare. Hiring a formation service like BizFilings can save you time—provided they’re fast enough. Poor processing times could leave you wishing you’d formed on your own instead.
BizFilings doesn’t show you exact processing times for your state, so it’s tough to pin down how quickly you’ll get your documents back. They do offer an “expedited” option of their own for $60. If you use this service, there’s still no time guarantee; BizFilings just promises that your documents will be prioritized over other orders.
Even then, your order is subject to the state’s processing times, so it’s tough to say exactly when your order will be complete. If you’d like a better estimate, we recommend that you contact customer support.
If you ever change your mind about a product you’ve purchased, you want to be able to return it, right? Unfortunately, with any business formation service, a full refund is impossible. That’s because part of the money goes to the state as their incorporation fee, and states do not refund those fees.
But occasionally, a customer changes their mind about a package they purchased. Perhaps they no longer want to subscribe to the registered agent service, or the company completes the process incorrectly. Each company has their own policy for refunds, and LegalZoom and BizFilings are no exception. We’ll summarize those policies here.
BizFilings has a strict refund policy: they’ll only grant you a refund if you request it before they start working on your documents. And even then, they charge you a $50 convenience fee. So for all practical purposes, you may as well not buy a package from them unless you’re absolutely sure it’s right for you.
Assistance with ongoing compliance
Starting a business takes a lot of time and effort, but so does maintaining it! Each state is a little different; some require annual reports, some require you to renew your license each year, and more. Keeping track of these requirements can be confusing.
That’s why a lot of services help you with ongoing compliance. But just how much help you’ll get depends on what service you choose.
BizFilings offers registered agent service and annual report services. They charge $164 for registered agent. The price for their registered agent service varies based on your state. And to top it off, BizFilings can also help you with publication service; they’re one of the best options in the industry for this service.
BizFilings’ final score
BizFilings places mid-pack in the business incorporation services we’ve reviewed. We love their customer support, and their system is fairly easy to use. With more than 20 years’ experience and over 500,000 businesses formed, they have a pretty good track record, too.
The primary drawback is the fact that they’re a bit overpriced. With those hefty prices and their so-so processing times, we give them a final score of 3.3/5.